Wnderer wrote: I believe the image of engineering in the media is chasing away girls and also boys, who don't want to be seen as geeks, away from engineering.
IMO what's driving USA students away from engineering is outsourcing, H1-B visas, age discrimination, underemployment, and everything they read in Dilbert -- over half of which, alas, is true. They quite simply see a bleak future in engineering. While you hear a lot about how important STEM is, the real message to USA students is quite clear: Wall Street is where the money is.
Any discussion of female engineers, especially from India, would be incomplete without a mention of Jayshree Ullal. A most impressive lady, (and nice, to boot).
Women are rare in physics, too. In conversation with another student in an acting class, she mentioned that she had a Masters in physics. When I commented on the rarity, she said it had one great advantage; there was never a shortage of washroom space in the breaks between classes.
Maybe my statements were hyperbole, but I stand by them. I believe the image of engineering in the media is chasing away girls and also boys, who don't want to be seen as geeks, away from engineering. That's why so many engineers are foreigners from other cultures that have a different view of who engineers are.
@Duane: No red blooded American teenage girl wants to spend her four years of college with a bunch of geeks
I know you were quoting someone else -- I take no position on this one way or the other -- all I know is that as a red-blooded English boy, I would have been more than happy to spend my four years of college with a bunch of teenage girls -- Instead I got landed with a bunch of geeks (actually, I was the king of the geeks :-)
For anyone who thinks women have no place in engineering, may I point out a little known fact, that -- not content with just singing and acting -- Ms Britney Spears is an expert in semiconductor physics. If you visit this website, she will guide you in the fundamentals of the vital semiconductor laser components that have made it possible to hear her super music in a digital format.
re: "No red blooded American teenage girl wants to spend her four years of college with a bunch of geeks"
My teenage daughter would take exception to that statement, as would I. She revels in her geekiness and has made geekiness cool amongst her circle of friends. She's proud of it and doesn't listen to anyone who puts her down for it.
A fundamental key in socially adapting to the differences in focus, as they have always existed in the interrelationships between men and women, involves understanding them as arising from a process of complementarity... and that it applies to how one approaches their studies ( or should apply to how they conduct their teaching ) in the fields of engineering, as well as anything else.
Stating the basic issue as simply as possible:
Women are great at figuring out the ways to do something and get it done...
... while men are good at figuring out all sorts of ways and reasons to get out of doing it.
@scud I never heard any of my women classmates complaining that their families won't allow them to do engineering.
Back in the '80's I mentored a very bright young college intern. She took some time off to visit relatives in South Korea. When she returned she told me how the relatives asked her mother "Why do you let Wendy study engineering? That is a man's job."
@wnderer I think one of the issues here is a cultural divide between what girls are interested in, and what they're told they should be interested in. Colleges can have programs for women (though I imagine few people would tell you there are "enough" programs), but encouraging girls, teens, women to get invovled in the field is another story. Weidenmiller believes much of the negative talk around women in tech is further deterring those potential engineers.